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Founder of Go Computer, Inc. sues Microsoft 370

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-such-thing-as-a-statute-of-limitations dept.
wantobe writes "From Yahoo! News 'Microsoft saw Go's PC operating system as a serious threat to its operating system monopoly and took swift covert action to 'kill' it just as it did the Netscape/Sun Java threat to its monopoly," according to Go's private action in federal court. ' Are Kaplan's complaints warranted, or is he just taking advantage of some recent Microsoft court losses and trying to get his cut? "
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Founder of Go Computer, Inc. sues Microsoft

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  • Kooks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pete6677 (681676)
    Are Kaplan's complaints warranted, or is he just taking advantage of some recent Microsoft court losses and trying to get his cut?

    Yup. This has been going on for a long time. Once a company becomes successful, kooks start coming out of the woodwork to sue them. It's starting to happen to Google too. Microsoft is an ideal victim for this, with their "unclean" history when it comes to other peoples' intellectual property. Microsoft would be well advised, if they haven't already, to have a strict regimen for
    • Re:Kooks (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pyrowolf (877012)
      I think it's a little more than opportunism though. I mean, granted, waiting 20 years or what not is a little bit of a stretch, but A portion of the case hinges on the behavior of Microsoft's engineers after they had been given access to Go's technology under a nondisclosure agreement.

      1. Gather information on product
      2. Wait a few years for the company/product to completely flop
      3. Bootstrap your exisiting OS to support features you're engineers have been squirrling away for 20 years
      4. Feel the wrath of
      • Re:Kooks (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ibanez (37490)
        You mention timing in this case, which for most of us is used to signify opportunism, as you mention. But then again, at the time, if they had sued, they'd probably have been somewhat pushed aside by our courts as just having lost out because the technology wasn't there.

        But say they had managed, without Microsoft's tactics (whatever they might have been), to survive another three or four years, when the technology started to take off. By suing immediately, they were much more likely to lose because of the
    • Re:Kooks (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rajafarian (49150) *
      Microsoft would be well advised, if they haven't already, to have a strict regimen for ensuring that all code they release is really theirs.

      They don't have to do such thing when they can do the following:

      1. Steal from other companies/Break Laws.
      2. Sell products that break laws or include properties of others for A LOT of money.
      3. Pay off gov't or company suing them.
      4. Profit.
      5. GOTO 1.
      • Re:Kooks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MooseByte (751829) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:33PM (#12995012)

        3. Pay off gov't or company suing them.
        4. Profit.

        With all the dirt that's coming up as one antitrust suit cascades into another though, I start to wonder just how long Step 4 will remain viable for MS. Especially after the US$850 million settlement with IBM (which only settled some of the claims there, IIRC).

        To paraphrase a famous quote from a US Congressman, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money."

        Karma's a bitch, and MS has bad karma by the cargo ship load to burn off.

        • Re:Kooks (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tet (2721) <slashdotNO@SPAMastradyne.co.uk> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:51PM (#12995225) Homepage Journal
          I start to wonder just how long Step 4 will remain viable for MS. Especially after the US$850 million settlement with IBM

          A long time. At current levels, MS would need to settle a case like that once every 28 days before they start dipping into unprofitability. A $1,000,000,000 hit occasionally certainly hurts, but it's far from critical damage and is sustainable for some time yet.

    • Re:Kooks (Score:5, Informative)

      by wiggles (30088) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:18PM (#12994880)
      If you had RTFA, you would see that this case has nothing to do with IP. Letters surfaced in a different lawsuit which proves beyond a doubt that Bill Gates himself asked Andy Grove not to invest in Go, and that Bill viewed any investment in Go as "Anti-Microsoft", in Billy's own words. Sounds pretty anti-competitive and collusive to me.
    • Re:Kooks (Score:5, Informative)

      by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:22PM (#12994908) Journal
      Once a company becomes successful, kooks start coming out of the woodwork to sue them.

      Get Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from the Inside [amazon.com] and learn some history. Written by a former MS employee it has some stuff about what happened back then around Go and Microsoft.

    • Re:Kooks (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hotchai (72816)
      For a detailed, albeit somewhat biased, story of Go, read Jerry Kaplan's book: "Startup : A Silicon Valley Adventure". It makes an interesting read, and in the book he even mentions that Microsoft was copying some of the interfaces and functionalities of PenPoint. Go apparently had discussions with Microsoft under NDA, and Jerry alleges that Microsoft stole their ideas and violated the NDA.

      Amazon.com link to book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0140 257314/qid=1120666767/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/ [amazon.com]

    • Re:Kooks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bohnanza (523456) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:31PM (#12994983)
      Are Kaplan's complaints warranted, or is he just taking advantage of some recent Microsoft court losses and trying to get his cut?

      Both could be true.

    • Yup. This has been going on for a long time. Once a company becomes successful, kooks start coming out of the woodwork to sue them.

      SPECIALLY if the company becomes more successful by crushing OTHER companies. DR-DOS, anyone?
    • Re:Kooks (Score:5, Informative)

      by blamanj (253811) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:35PM (#12995039)
      Kaplan is hardly a kook [stanford.edu]. He is claiming that new information has come out in the recent antitrust trials, in particular, that Gates pushed Intel into dropping plans to invest [mercurynews.com] in Go.

      ``I guess I've made it very clear that we view an Intel investment in Go as an anti-Microsoft move, both because Go competes with our systems software and because we think it will weaken the 386 PC standard. . . I'm asking you not to make any investment in Go Corporation,''

      In his book, Startup, Kaplan describes how they shared trade secrets with Microsoft, something they were not keen on doing, but Microsoft promised to set a "Chinese wall" between their app division and the OS division, so only the applications people would know and that they'd be able to produce software in support of Go. In this excerpt from Startup, Kaplan details how Microsoft's app division made us of confidential information [amazon.com] Go had shared with them to create Pen Windows, which, even as vapourware, effectively killed Go.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:21PM (#12995544)
      No matter how many times the evidence gets posted, there are still people who seem ignorant of Microsoft's criminal behaviour. Of course, we also know that Microsoft has been caught paying people to write articles and post in forums, so we never know what a given poster's motivation is.

      Cases like Go's lawsuit are _NOT_ frivilous attempts to get money out of Microsoft. On the contrary, Microsoft has had a series of losses in court BECAUSE MICROSOFT WAS GUILTY.

      In just the last few years, Microsoft was found guilty of criminal behaviour by the DOJ, and has had to make massive payouts to Sun, Novell, IBM, Apple, and others. Those are not companies that got rich through frivilous lawsuits.

      Microsoft's standard method of operation has been well documented over the years. As happened with DR-DOS, Java, and Netscape, among other examples, Microsoft:

      1. Allows their own product to stagnate for years.

      2. Finally notices when another company starts to succeed with a new or improved technology.

      3. Copies the new or improved technology (sometimes buys it, but often steals it, hence the lawsuits).

      4. Fails to succeed with their often-second-rate copy.

      5. Finally resorts to sabotaging the other company, through FUD, payoffs, polluting standards, and so on.

      6. Gets a slap on the wrist from the courts. Pays a fine. Profit!

      Microsoft's greatest innovation is their strategy for stealing technology. Microsoft always starts out by forming a partnership, or at least entering into negotiations with the other company, before stealing that company's technology. That way, the criminal courts never get involved, and no one at Microsoft ends up going to jail. Instead, the case always goes to civil court, where the worst Microsoft is likely to face is a fine. Microsoft is a master at manipulating the law.

      I said that the evidence is frequently posted. Here is where you can read some of it:

      The DOJ case against Microsoft - Findings of Fact [usdoj.gov]:

      For example, this quote showing how Microsoft blackmailed Apple:

      > Gates informed those Microsoft executives most closely involved in the negotiations with Apple that the discussions "have not been going well at all." One of the several reasons for this, Gates wrote, was that "Apple let us down on the browser by making Netscape the standard install." Gates then reported that he had already called Apple's CEO (who at the time was Gil Amelio) to ask "how we should announce the cancellation of Mac Office...."

      Or these quotes from Microsoft's James Allchin:

      > I don't understand how IE is going to win. The current path is simply to copy everything that Netscape does packaging and product wise. Let's [suppose] IE is as good as Navigator/Communicator. Who wins? The one with 80% market share.

      > Pitting browser against browser is hard since Netscape has 80% marketshare and we have 20%.... I am convinced we have to use Windows -- this is the one thing they don't have.... We have to be competitive with features, but we need something more -- Windows integration. If you agree that Windows is a huge asset, then it follows quickly that we are not investing sufficiently in finding ways to tie IE and Windows together.

      Also, read the parts about the ways Microsoft "encouraged" companies to break their contracts with Netscape, about how Microsoft threatened Intel to get them to stop working on Java, and so on.

      Sun's lawsuit against Microsoft over Java [sun.com]:

      This is a classic case of Microsoft attempting to copy/steal another company's product, then sabotaging that company's version of it.

      For example, there is this memo about a meeting with Bill Gates:

      > When I met with you last, you had a lot of pretty pointed questions about Java, so I want to make sure I understand your issues/concerns...
    • Re:Kooks (Score:5, Informative)

      by Walt Dismal (534799) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:31PM (#12995652)
      I was there, I was a witness to what happened back in the 90s when this all happened, and Microsoft really did to Go what Kaplan says they did. I worked for Slate, a pen-based apps startup in the same building in Foster City that Go was in. I used the Go OS, which was powerful, well-designed, feature-rich and ran acceptably on a 386-based touchscreen tablet - a real advance at that time. Microsoft's Pen Windows, which I also used on a personal machine, was inferior in comparison. Go was way ahead technologically. Microsoft suckered Go into telling secrets under NDA, and once they had the details, MS's marketing guys played the vaporware game on Go in the public arena. A key clue was that after Go fell, MS pen computing vanished for almost a decade. It had all been about control of the market, not innovation. Hell yes, Kaplan is justified in suing. It really happened as he says.
  • It looks like opportunism to me. According to the lawsuit, Gates wrote in a memo, "guess I've made it clear that we view an Intel investment in Go as an anti-Microsoft move, I am asking you not to make any investment in Go." That doesn't seem like enough to dig up a 20 year old case, especially since the "grandfather clause" for those types of cases is 5 years.
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:08PM (#12994772)
    Several years back Be, Inc., developers of BeOS, launched a similar lawsuit against Microsoft. While it was touted as the case that would demolish Microsoft, I believe they ended up settling. So I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a repeat in this situation.
  • by Kamidari (866694) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:09PM (#12994787)
    Do not suppress Go, do not collect one billion dollars.
  • Timing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teiresias (101481) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:11PM (#12994796)
    Does Go feel they have a better case now that tablet PCs are using pens as a means for control?

    In the 1980's pen recognition wasn't what most people would call viable so perhaps this "swift covert action to 'kill' the Go PenPoint wasn't as villanous than. However now, I'm sure there are a few judges that probably use a tablet with stylus and will see PenPoint as a possibly OS in a more favorable light.
    • I think that could definately have something to do with it.

      I don't think it's wrong to have waited until the right time to sue. Microsoft is a huge ass company with billions and billions in reserve funds - before you sue them you need to plan out your case.

      Unless you're SCO.
  • I don't think there is a defense for Microsoft. In the same week that Microsoft writes a big check to IBM, they get slapped with another suit. Draw your own conclusions about the merits of GO.
    But the long and short of it is that it's going to be impossible for Microsoft to prevent these kinds of suits. They have something like sixty thousand employees, for cripes sake, how could they possibly make sure that each and every employee isn't infringing in some way on somebody's IP?
    In a way, it's poetic justice
    • They have something like sixty thousand employees, for cripes sake, how could they possibly make sure that each and every employee isn't infringing in some way on somebody's IP? In a way, it's poetic justice. Microsoft has led the war on patenting the universe, now they're getting a little of their own medicine.

      While I agree with you generally about big companies who have to be diligent about the behavior of its many employees. This case is about more than just IP infringement. Go is also complaining abo

      • Re: Also (Score:3, Informative)

        by MemeRot (80975)
        They requested to look at Go's code so that Windows could 'support it better'. After that, they announced a vaporware version of Go, and as soon as Go was out of business dropped their own pen product.

        So they clearly used their OS monopoly (you needed your pen to work on windows) to feed their application group code to make at least a rough version of the same product. Definitely abusing their os monopoly to further extend their application monopoly. Those are the facts of the case I'm interested, not a
  • I'm not saying that the technology didn't exist 20 years ago when Go was making their Pen-based computer. However, the computing world back then didn't take it seriously, and until the PalmPilot III was released less than 10 years ago, using a stylus was simply not a reasonable way to enter data into a computer.

    20 years ago, there was no mobile computing world to speak of, and Microsoft's monopoly did not extend into that field at all. Their first real forays into the mobile computing world, with the Cas
    • "20 years ago, there was no mobile computing world to speak of, and Microsoft's monopoly did not extend into that field at all."

      Maybe, if Microsoft hadn't abused its market power there would have been more progress in the field of personal computing. Ever looked at it this way? It always amazes me how little fantasy some people have when it comes to computing. Maybe that explains why Windows users are so content with their working environment and why they think of the promised new features that Longhorn is

    • by Kevin Burtch (13372) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:22PM (#12995554)

      I have several NCR 3125 NotePad [geocities.com] computers that originally ran PenPoint OS.
      These devices were what Microsoft now calls "Tablet PCs".

      When they first came to market, Microsoft panicked and announced "Pen Extensions for Windows" (which added very little to Windows 3.1) and claimed that a buch of new systems were coming out to use it. Typical Microsoft vaporware tactics... everyone decided to wait for the wonderful new MS product instead of buying the PenPoint devices, and the market for them collapsed.

      Considering that it took them this long to actually produce a product, they obviously only made the annoucement to kill any potential competitor from gaining a foothold.
      Call it a conspiracy theory if you wish, but it's a court-proven tactic that MS loves to (ab)use and is quite famous for.

      The handwriting recognition in PenPoint was actually very impressive, by the way.
  • give me a break... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rwven (663186) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:12PM (#12994815)
    This was like 20 years ago... Why is he just now pressing charges? It looks like someone is low on cash so they thought getting on the "Sue MS" bandwagon was a good idea.

    True: I do believe that if MS did do wrong, it should have it's tail whuped.

    Also True: The extremely late timing of this looks very suspicious. It looks more like he's grasping at financial straws...
    • This was like 20 years ago... Why is he just now pressing charges? It looks like someone is low on cash so they thought getting on the "Sue MS" bandwagon was a good idea.

      Yeah, 1999 would have been the best time to sue them as that's when they were convicted of being a monopoly.
  • "Handwriting recognition had severe limitations in the late 1980's and early 1990's and no company that attempted pen computing was successful then," [Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake] said.

    Go was sold to AT&T Corp. in 1994, which closed the company in July of the same year. In November of 1994, Microsoft shut down its competing pen-computing effort, called PenWindows, which the suit alleges had largely existed to destroy Go.


    Go was based on handwriting recognition. The technology was not very g
    • by szo (7842) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:37PM (#12995062)
      Even if the technology was not there in '94, Go was a company comitted to develop it. May or may not they would suceeded with it by let's say '96, if they had the chance. Instead, I think something like this happened:

      1, Go starts do develop the technology.
      2, Need money, so make publicity, attract investors.
      3, MS smells competition, announces similar product
      4, investors think: why should I invest in Go, when MS will soon have the same product (competing with MS never good!), which (according to MS) will be as good as or better, run on windows, thus instantly have all win application, integrated, etc, you know the MS drill about a new product.
      5, Without money, Go folds.
      6, MS suddenly realizes that the handwriting is not so hot.
      7, The handwriting development stops for years, the world is set back in this field by about 5 years.

      MS did something illegal? Will be hard to prove. But they were well avare that anything they say, people listen, and abused their position.

      Szo
      • by telecsan (170227) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:17PM (#12995501)
        MS did something illegal? Will be hard to prove

        Except for Gates telling Intel not to invest in Go. That just came out recently, and explains the timing and the viability of this suit.
      • MS did something illegal? Will be hard to prove. But they were well avare that anything they say, people listen, and abused their position.

        No, as you describe it it would just be used, not abused. There is nothing wrong or illegal about being rich and powerful (even by monopoly profits), and they have every right to making competing products even if they are omnious to other corporations. What is illegal is to abuse the monopoly position, to use your connections and market power to give your own product a
    • by RetiredMidn (441788) * on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:57PM (#12995289) Homepage
      I highly recommend reading Jerry's book [amazon.com], cited in TFA. Even if you take Jerry's claims with a liberal dose of salt, there are all sorts of signs of anti-competitive behavior, from arm-twisting potential partners of Go to possible violation of NDAs in the development of Microsoft's FUD^H^H^H PenWindows "alternative".

      Personally, I always wondered why the government didn't use the Go story in its antitrust case; it's a tidily packaged narrative that hits many of the low points in the patterns of Microsoft's behavior. OTOH, they had so much material to work with...

      As a struggling startup, Go didn't stand a chance in any possible legal action at the time, and AT&T didn't have the will (even if it did have the means) after Go was forced into selling out. Suing now may look opportunistic, but Jerry did only recently reacquire what's left of the company, and if he can demonstrate that illegal behavior by Microsoft contributed to the delay in his ability to pursue legal action, maybe he'll get his day in court.

      Disclaimer: I had occasion to work with Jerry for a while before he started Go, although that doesn't really predispose me to take his side.

  • It was innovative, and had some interesting points (the developer documentation was well done). However I have to say that it wasn't a Windows Killer IMHO. While a better Pen OS than Windows for Pen Computing, the latter provided a better overall user experience and could run apps I already had. The programming interface to PenPoint struck me as cumbersome (though I never did any development for it).

  • Proposal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JerkyBoy (455854) *
    Reject any submission that ends with '?'. Makes the submission sound like a tabloid. Imagine an article in the NYT ending with a question mark. Doesn't make sense.
  • Are Kaplan's complaints warranted, or is he just taking advantage of some recent Microsoft court losses and trying to get his cut?

    Considering that in a private antitrust action the only possible resolution is a cash settlement, I don't see the difference.

    The only party in a position to change the competitive landscape (with either a behavioral or structural remedy) is the Department of Justice.

    Oh, wait ...

  • ...for just a few more months and closed it in 95, then where would this suit be?

    Of course, everyone ascribes to Microsoft the mastery of the mythical magical power of money, so therefore the only reason Microsoft would shut down an effort so soon after Go did and sold to AT&T would naturally be, mission accomplished. Not the very real reason that it was just not going to happen back in 1995 the way Go or Microsoft wanted.

    Go is being a real opportunist and they need to be slapped down. The Linux wor
    • Of course, everyone ascribes to Microsoft the mastery of the mythical magical power of money, so therefore the only reason Microsoft would shut down an effort so soon after Go did and sold to AT&T would naturally be, mission accomplished.

      Well, it certain has that appearance.

      Not the very real reason that it was just not going to happen back in 1995 the way Go or Microsoft wanted.

      That doesn't matter.

      Microsoft took action against Go.

      It doesn't matter if the tech would have worked or not. It is Mi

  • The story is well described in his book, Startup : A Silicon Valley Adventure [amazon.com]. He has some point.
  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:21PM (#12994898) Homepage Journal
    Are Kaplan's complaints warranted, or is he just taking advantage of some recent Microsoft court losses and trying to get his cut?

    Why would we assume that those two are mutually exclusive?

    Is there any doubt that MS would have behaved that way, if they really perceived GO to be a threat?

    Is there any doubt that they would have behaved immorally and illegally if that's what it took to counter that threat to their monopoly?

    Was there any reason for Kaplan to file a suit before there was a possibility of success?

    I'd say there's a good chance that Kaplan is taking advantage of MS's recent court losses to get his cut ... the cut that he's warranted because MS wrongly did him out of it!

  • I don't think this is an "or" question. I think it clearly is both. IAMDNAL (most definitely not a lawyer ;-), but I think MS could argue that "it has been too long."

    I wouldn't slam the plaintiff here, though. I suspect the majority of actions brought are "nuisance suits," intended to extract a "pound of justice" by the mere threat rather than cases intended for trial.

    This is the judicial ecology. It's all part of the semi-free market. I'm a big fan of the right to petition the government for redress
  • Too late (Score:2, Funny)

    by rlp (11898)
    Microsoft already purchased an indulgence from the DOJ.
  • Are Kaplan's complaints warranted, or is he just taking advantage of some recent Microsoft court losses and trying to get his cut?

    Kaplan's complaints are warranted, based on the history of Go. And now that Microsoft's conduct has been laid bare by other lawsuits, he is trying to take advantage of that, because it does make his case simpler: it has been demonstrated clearly that Microsoft has a pattern of anti-competitive behavior, and a lot of useful Microsoft-internal information has come to light.
  • by a137035 (895166) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:47PM (#12995172)
    You can get all the dirt on this from the book "Barbarians Led By Bill Gates: Microsoft from the Inside - How the World's Richest Corporation Wields Its Power" [powells.com]. Here is the publisher's synopsis:
    "Microsoft, a rather new corporation, may not have matured to the position where it understands how it should act with respect to the public interest."-U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin
    Teamed with the daughter of one of Bill Gates's closest associates, thirteen-year Microsoft veteran Marlin Eller shows us what it was like at every step along Gates's route to world domination, making all that's been written before seem like a rough guess. If the Justice Department had Eller and Edstrom investigating the current-headline-making antitrust case, they would have on the record many of Microsoft's most respected developers directly contradicting the "authorized" version of events being presented in court. They would know the real scoop on how Windows was developed in the first place, shedding new light on the 1988 Apple v. Microsoft lawsuit over the alleged copying of the Mac. They would even know the real story of how Microsoft killed off Go Corporation, told for the first time by the man who did the deed, Marlin Eller himself.
    Revealing the smoke-and-mirror deals, the palms greased to help launch a product that didn't exist, and the boneyard of once-thriving competitors targeted by the Gates juggernaut, this book demonstrates with often hilariously damning detail the Microsoft muddle that passes for strategic direction, offset by Gates's uncanny ability to come from behind to crush whoever's on top.

    Pretty damning stuff.
  • Justified suit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ContractualObligatio (850987) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:47PM (#12995177)

    People, don't just RTFA, RTF book. If you read Jerry Kaplan's Start Up, you see that he was on the receiving end of Microsoft's illegal practices e.g. forcing OEMs to pay licenses even on machines that did not have Windows installed. Go was a real company, not some opportunistic "my business model is a lawsuit" bunch of asshats. For all the obvious reasons, challenging Microsoft in a court of law was hardly an option.

    The fact that Microsoft shafted them in the early nineties and it's only now that Go is suing is irrelvant (not sure when Kaplan got the rights back from AT&T/Lucent to do so), the fact that pen computing did not take off back then, all these are irrelevant facts. MS broke the law to ruin other people's businesses. Now that they have been convicted of doing so, it's open season for a few years yet for anyone with strong evidence that they were a genuine victim.

    StartUp is kind of a heart breaking read as a technologist. When Go is unable to get proper funding or business deals (here's where MS's business practice screws them, for instance), and the company dies even as part of AT&T, MS quietly shuts down its own pen computing division, apparently happy that another potential competitor has been crushed before it could be a problem. The idea is we're supposed to be able to try and get innovations tried by the marketplace, not blocked by people with the vested interest to do so.

    If MS is found guily or settles out of court, then that would be entirely appropriate. Yes, there are so many complaints like this that it's a cliche. Doesn't mean there aren't genuine cases, and given there's a published book on the facts from 1995 - well before anyone knew MS could be successfully to court - I would say this is one of them.

    • Re:Justified suit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by K8Fan (37875) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:25PM (#12995588) Journal

      Excellent post.

      The main point that nobody seems to have mentioned is that PenPoint was a threat to Microsoft NOT because pen-based computing was seen as a threat. PenPoint was a "threat" because it broke with the "operating system as launcher for applications" paradigm. PenPoint was based on the idea of a blank page and tabs. There were no visible "applications"...different sets of tools launched depending on what the user was trying to do; start printing letters, text editing tools appeared; draw a box, graphing tools appeared. All this was opposed to the MS "use the OS to open an app, then open a file within that app" paradigm. This was a threat to the MS way of life.

      PenPoint was the last truly revolutionary operating system and deserves it's day in court. Gate and MS set computing back 20 years.

  • Go was sold to AT&T Corp. in 1994, which closed the company in July of the same year.

    So, the company has ceased to exist for 11 years now. Can a dissolved company file a lawsuit?
  • This has nothing to do with stolen code. This has nothing to do with Intelectual Property or Copy Rights. GO is not claiming infringment, nor theft (though they imply it) This is an AntiTrust lawsuit. GO is claiming that Microsoft used it's Monopoly like power to control the market and other vendors in a delibret effort to cause their company to fail. The problems they'll have is that the whole thing took place in the late 80's, long before Microsoft was originally found guilty of abusing it's monopoly li
  • If you find a way to make a buck at software, or with a platform that might make people give their money to a company other than Microsoft, they will find out about it. You will soon find that MS does not like for people to give money to other businesses, and they will enter (or annoiunce plans to enter) your product space and bring their resources to bear in competition against you.

    That's the marketplace. If people want financial SW, MS sells them MS Money. If they want hand-helds you get PocketPC.

    Now
  • If Microsoft has heard of Go Computer, Inc, then they're one of a privileged few, as the only results on Google were two links that mentioned this suit, and one for portable MP3 players. Might make for a better imfringement case if someone out there has actually seen what it is that you're selling.
  • MS bashing aside, Kaplan's book Startup [amazon.com] detailing Go's (mis)adventures is worth a read even after 2000.

    BTW, I'm still waiting impatiently for Apple's post-Newton PDA offering. I've got $500 set aside, Steve.

  • by micromuncher (171881) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @01:38PM (#12995727) Homepage
    I don't think Kaplan's complaints are without merrit... because it happened to us.

    I worked at a company making "digital delivery" ware - stuff that allowed try-before-buy and key-based product unlocking from CD.

    Microsoft approached us with interest in the product. However, we could never get them to sign an agreement where they would commit to deploying the technology. They wanted absolutely every detailed spec including code for evaluation, without committing... it suffices to say after a few months with no agreement, we told them we would not release the jewels without an agreement where a product resulted.

    Within two weeks, Microsoft announced their own vapour competetive technology. Its FUD department was publishing slander against our product (their security experts saying DES was better than FEAL, lol). Microsoft was lobbying NTT against us as well as some of our clients. Some new clients bailed because they said "We'll wait for that microsoft solution."

    Does this sound like fair trade practice?
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @02:32PM (#12996239) Homepage
    In the early days of Go, I used to see people carrying the Go prototype around Palo Alto. It was a book-sized box with a rubber cover for the screen, using an Intel 386 processor. With pen input. Remember that laptops barely existed then. Way ahead of its time.

    Go made two big mistakes. One was negotiating with Microsoft, and the other was partnering with AT&T. Back then, AT&T was trying to figure out what to do after deregulation. There was an AT&T PC (running UNIX, no less), AT&T minicomputers (running on 48VDC, just like telco gear), and for a brief period, AT&T retail computer stores. AT&T insisted that Go port their system over to some wierd AT&T CPU, which they did. Then they had some designer firm design a cool-looking but inconvenient case for the thing, with plastic plug-on modules on the side.

    The prototype was better than the "production version".

  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @02:45PM (#12996362) Homepage
    My first thought is that MS didn't even qualify as a monopoly in 1994. This was when Windows 3.1 was out, and there were still a few different versions of DOS. MS was not the juggernaut it is now, no where near. Many PCs shipped with OSes other than MS. If MS wasn't a monopoly at the time (and I think it would be hard to say they were) there was nothing wrong with them asking Intel not to invest in Go. If it happened today, there would be no question of the legality (as in none). But assuming it was malicious and illegal then based on MS now is just wrong.

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